Engaging the Bachelor (Pulse) – Cathryn Fox
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Engaging the Bachelor (Pulse)

Book Cover: Engaging the Bachelor (Pulse)
Part of the Pulse series:
  • Engaging the Bachelor (Pulse)

 

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Hot, Southampton doctor, Carson Reynolds isn’t the kind of man Gemma Carr should be playing with. But his offer of a fake engagement comes with sexy, late night house calls, and despite her bad girl reputation, it’s been far too long since she’s taken two and called anyone in the morning.

When Carson sees Gemma at a charity event, he knows he has to have her. It’s been ten years since he’s had her in his arms, but that hasn’t lessened his intense need for her. To save her reputation and get his parents off his back, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

It’s the perfect set-up—until this fake engagement starts to feel a little too real…

Excerpt:

No. Fucking. Way.

Emergency room doctor Carson Reynolds stepped into Score, the local sports bar where the staff from Hampton General went to unwind, and nearly bit off his tongue.

Holy. Shit.

With shaky hands, he gripped his suddenly too tight collar and tugged, unable to tear his gaze from the sexy vision before him. He sucked in air, but couldn’t seem to catch his breath. Am I having a fucking heart attack? At least the place was filled with doctors and nurses who could revive him if he fell face-first onto the scuffed and pitted floor.

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His heart raced—okay, galloped—and roared in his ears like a runaway gurney. He briefly pinched his eyes shut, a desperate attempt to pull himself together. He opened them again, expecting her to be gone, a mere figment of his imagination, but when he found her standing there, her smile bright, a rush of excitement pulsed through him like a double shot of adrenaline.

His gaze skated over her, traveling a mile up those long slender legs that knew how to draw a man in tight and hold him down hard. Fuck me. The mid-thigh, low-cut, retro nurse uniform she wore showcased slim hips and perfect breasts that beckoned his hands, his mouth. Damn he wanted to taste her. Again.

Oh yeah, there was no mistake about it. It was her. The girl he’d spent the last ten years searching for—the same one who’d haunted his dreams so many nights. His mind rushed back to his nineteenth birthday, to the evening she and her friend had crashed the party he was throwing at his folk’s beachside cottage just a few blocks from where he currently stood.

That night she’d freely given him her virginity, but not her name, and then disappeared from his life forever. Now here she stood—across the street from Hampton Gen, where he’d just taken a temporary position—in an establishment he instantly decided to make his second home.

He still hovered at the door, feet firmly planted—more like immobilized—his gaze riveted on the woman who’d blown through his world like a hurricane and left him in shambles in the aftermath. They might have only been kids at the time—two strangers who’d fucked on the pool house floor—and he’d been with his fair share of women since, but he still couldn’t get the warmth of her touch, the honeyed taste of her kisses, out of his mind.

He brushed his tongue over his bottom lip, searching for remnants of her sweetness. Maybe if he had her again, just one more time, he might finally be able to get her out of his system and move on with his life.

Why did she give me her virginity, but not her name?

That question had plagued him for years. Sure he’d had a one-track mind back in the day, his cock like a heat-seeking missile with one mission. So when little Miss Sexy and Eighteen had come on to him, he reacted like any lust driven teenager would. It didn’t matter that she was an outsider, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who’d snuck into his party. She was beautiful, and warm, and she’d wanted him. Not because of who he was or what he could give her. No, all she’d asked was for him to hold her, to take her, and in turn she had given him something precious—something he had no right to claim.

Christ, he never would have taken her on the floor of the pool house like a goddamn hound had he known she was a virgin. Yeah, he was a typical nineteen-year-old at the time, but he wasn’t a complete asshole. Unfortunately, by the time his cock had met with resistance, and he realized it was her first time, she’d tightened her legs around his back, lifted her hips, and pulled him in deeper.

Afterward, he’d tried to wrap her in his arms until he knew she was okay. But she’d pushed away from him, insisting she was fine—her tough armor keeping him out. With only the moonlight shining in through the small pool house window, she’d scrambled back into her clothes, fled like a cat from water, never to be heard from again.

Cheers erupted in the room, and his thoughts came rocketing back to the present. He found her in the crowd again and watched her sashay around the tables in too-high heels he assumed very few women could master. With her arms in the air, and a pair of handcuffs glinting in the overhead light as they dangled from her fingertips, the bad-girl nurse gave an extra shake to her hips as she pulled Jake Banyan—a guy Carson had grown up with—now an ER colleague, from his chair and paraded him around the room before she marched him to the bar.

What the hell was going on? Carson’s mind raced to catch up. Oh, right. Tonight was the bar’s yearly charity auction—that had to be the reason she was dressed in a retro nurse uniform—and the funds the hospital staff helped raise would go toward feeding the homeless. He’d seen the flyers in the doctors’ lounge, but it had been a hell of a long day getting his administration work sorted out, and while he was all about donating, the event had slipped his mind.

Little Miss Sexy Nurse grabbed a microphone off the small podium. “Come on, ladies,” she said, waving her hand over Jake’s body like a game show host unveiling a prize, and wiggling against him suggestively. Jake, who Carson had long ago branded an arrogant asshole, went along with it, playing the women in the bidding pool like they were well-tuned instruments. Still dressed in his hospital scrubs, Jake turned toward the mahogany bar top. All in good fun, he aimed his ass at the crowd and pretended to pick something up. Thunderous claps roared in Carson’s ears, and Carson found himself grinning. Better Jake than him.

Carson’s sexy nurse ran her fingers over Jake’s stethoscope and pressed it to her heart. She fanned her other hand in front of her face and bent one knee, her back curving seductively. Jesus, she was sexy. His cock jumped.

Shit. Down boy.

“I don’t know about you ladies,” she said, her voice sexy, breathless. “But Jake sure has my heart pulsing.” As Jake eye-fucked her, she looked into the crowd and winked, her sassy attitude completing the bad girl package. “I think I might want to keep this naughty boy all to myself.”

Like hell she would.

A wave of possessiveness Carson had no right to feel prowled through him. Tension dug into his neck as he hiked his backpack up higher on his shoulder, letting go of the door he was still clutching. As it banged shut, heads turned his way, and he forced his legs to work. He sidestepped a few tables until he found one in the corner. He eased into the seat, losing himself in the shadows, wanting nothing more than to watch her. For now. Hell, he’d been looking ten long years for her. A few more minutes weren’t going to kill him. Or maybe they would, especially if she kept shaking her sweet ass like that. He shifted uncomfortably, admiring and appreciating. Lusting inappropriately.

“Fifty dollars,” a middle aged woman in the crowd yelled, waving paddle number sixty-two in the air with enough enthusiasm that Jake ought to be scared. Lord knew Carson would be.

Carson’s sexy nurse let her gaze travel the length of Jake and sighed. She pouted that lush mouth of hers and lifted the microphone. “As hot as you are Jake, I’m afraid that’s out of my budget.” She pointed to the woman with the paddle. “Let the bidding begin.”

She handed off the microphone to a woman dressed in nursing scrubs. With alcohol flowing freely, the room bristled with excitement. The crowd was loud, alive, the atmosphere electric. Carson sucked it all in, feeding off the rush. It gave him his second wind, watching his sexy nurse search the crowd for her next victim.

“Thanks, Gemma,” said the auctioneer, a naughty smile playing on her lips as she ran her finger along the scruff on Jake’s jaw. “So what do you say, hot stuff? Are you ready to play doctor with one of these generous women, and cure everything that ails them?” She grinned at Jake and then shot a glance around the room, her gaze briefly brushing over Carson as he hovered in the shadows. “Do I hear seventy-five?”

Another paddle went up. “Seventy-five,” a woman yelled. But Carson couldn’t think about the bidding war that was about to take place. Not when the sexy nurse was coming his way.

Gemma.

The din of the crowd disappeared as Carson said her name out loud, trying it out on his tongue and savoring the way it lingered on his lips. He said it again, and everything in the way it tasted, how it reverberated in his brain, had his mind careening back to the night she’d given herself to him. Too bad she’d called him Sailor Boy instead of Carson, compliments of the Nautica sweater he had given her to keep warm, he supposed. What he would have done to hear his name on her lips, to say hers in return.

He turned his attention to the woman auctioning off Jake. She was the friend who’d helped Gemma crash his party that fateful night, only to disappear into one of the upstairs bedrooms with his buddy, leaving Gemma to fend for herself. At least his friend had gotten Andy’s name before she headed back to Brooklyn when the party was over. If only he’d gotten her cell number, too. Carson would have been able to track Gemma down through her. She might not have wanted to be found, but that memorable night left him needing more than just answers.

He shook his head, hardly able to believe he’d finally found the girl he’d compared every other to. Over the years, his parents had thrown dozens of woman at him, trying to marry him off to some socialite with the right pedigree, but none of those girls had ever measured up to Gemma.

Carson scrubbed his hand over his face, his gaze locked on Gemma as she worked the room. Teeth flashing in a brilliant smile, she peered into the dark corner, her confident steps slowing, more cautious as she approached. Another few steps brought her closer, into his personal space, and then all of a sudden her feet came to a halt. When their gazes clashed, her eyes went wide, like she’d seen a ghost.

He supposed she had.

She searched for the nearest chair to support herself, but her hand faltered and pushed it out of reach. As the metal legs scraped over the wood floor, Gemma sucked in a quick breath and faltered backward, her too-high heels failing her trembling legs. Before she toppled, Carson moved swiftly. He pushed from his chair and caught her in his arms.

The instant he touched her, sexual energy arced between them. Forget the emergency backup system at the hospital. With the barest of touches they could generate enough electricity to light up an entire New York block in a black out—for a solid week. He dipped his head, his mouth inches from hers. Her enticing floral scent seeped under his skin and took him back to the day he’d had her beneath him. Jesus. He drew on every ounce of strength he possessed to stop from reacquainting his lips with hers, from losing himself in the sweetness of her mouth and between her legs.

He brushed his knuckles over her warm cheek, a soft caress that brought heat to her dark, honey-flecked eyes. “Hi Gemma,” he whispered, pitching his voice low, for her ears only.

For one shocked moment she just stood there, then she drew in a quick, shaky breath. “Sailor boy?” Those soft, barely there words fluttered past trembling lips and washed over his face, filling him with a need he hadn’t experienced in a long time. As her voice vibrated through him, his pulse skyrocketed, his cock throbbing against his zipper. It clamored to get out, to feel her soft palms wrapped around it. Christ, he couldn’t stop thinking about the ways she’d explored him that night, her hands curious, her touch urgent and needy, looking for so much from him. His blood flowed thick and heavy, and he clenched his teeth, fighting to keep himself in check. Thank fuck he wasn’t wearing scrubs. He didn’t need everyone in the bar knowing he was sporting the hard-on of the century.

“Yeah, it’s me, but the name is Carson.” She stared at him wide-eyed, her chest rising and falling erratically. “Say it,” he whispered. She shook her head, like she was trying to wrap her brain around this turn of events. He touched her chin lightly, brushing his thumb over her cheek, waiting as she grounded herself in the moment. “Say it, Gemma,” he repeated.

A long pause and then she murmured, “Carson.” Her voice was soft, sultry, sensuously low, and it caressed his cock in the most mind-fucking ways.

“The next time you’re in my bed, that’s the name you’re going to use.”

She stiffened, but he held her tighter, not daring to let her out of his hold this time. No, this time he was damn well determined to find out who she was and why she’d given her virginity to a boy she’d didn’t even know—and never intended to see again.

COLLAPSE

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